After recently attending another dinner party with a big group of Brits, I decided to compile a little list of tips that I thought you may find interesting. And funny.
Depending on the event, there is nothing wrong with being “fashionably late” in the States. But here, 30 minutes after the start-time is pretty much standard.
Last week, our hosts invited us over for 7:30. So, we arrived at 7:30 on the dot. Not only did we beat one of hosts home, but he actually said “7:30 really means 8:00.”
Now, this gets a bit more confusing. If you’re told to be somewhere “at 7:00 FOR 8:00” that means there is a time allotted for cocktails, so you’re safe arriving anytime within that half-hour. However, I still would advise not to show up until at least 7:15.
One of my girlfriends once explained, “Us British like to make you work for your food by talking to strangers.” In other words, do not be surprised when you are seated on the opposite side of the table from your significant other, and stuck in-between two people you don’t know.
Use this time to make new friends, unless of course they speak a different language, and then you’re pretty much out of luck.
(3) Some Dinner-Party Vocab.
For you ladies who haven’t been here that long, here are some key words you may wish to know.
“Peckish”– meaning to feel like you want to nibble on something.
You’ll hear, “I’m feeling peckish” while someone reaches for a hors d’oeuvre.
“Moorish”– meaning, “I could eat a million of these.” Often used in context with potato chips (aka, crisps.)
You’ll hear, “These crisps are so moorish.”
“Pudding”– means dessert. But you probably figured that one out by now. For a great recipe click here.
*Buy extra wine. Trust me. You will go through it. The average Brit can out-drink the average American sorority girl.
*American hits like quacamole (the “Joy of Cooking” has the best recipe) and queso go over really well with the Brits. Actually, Mexican is usually a great bet, because we know how to get the flavors right. (To make Mexican upscale, try prawn fajitas with grilled zucchini as a side. Remember, presentation is everything!)
*Have coffee AND TEA on hand to serve with pudding. Remember, we’re in England, and they are obsessed with tea. However, in my experience the average 20/30 something Brit will prefer a glass of port over a cup of tea at the end of the meal.
There you have it ladies, those are my off-hand observations.
As you all know, I love to hear YOUR observations, comments, and tips!
One that I learned is you need to tip the bowl away from you when eating soup
An American Girl in Chelsea says
Erika, this reminds me of another difference that a friend once pointed out to me. Apparently us Americans put our fork and knife down in-between bites, but Brits hold them all the time. Check out the table next time you're out, it is quite funny.
Best hostess tip (from a recent chic dinner party) – buy more than one bottle of each wine you serve for easy refills throughout the evening! And thanks for the great tips!
This Mid 30s Life says
Love this list!
I'm an Australian living in London, and this applies to dinner parties in Australia too. Although I have found that 7.30 in London means 7.30.
I was surprised to read about the seating – in the US, would you actually sit beside your partner at a dinner party? That's a big no-no both here and in Oz!
Some even take it up an extra notch, which is plain annoying actually. For example, my in-laws hosted a big engagement party for us. My then-fiance-now-husband and I weren't even seated at the same table. That is taking it to extremes!